West Chester Stalking Crimes Lawyer
One study found that about 8 percent of women, and 2 percent of men have been stalked at some time in their life—that’s one in every 12 women, and one out of every 45 men. Men overwhelmingly commit the majority of stalking crimes, and 80 percent of stalking victims are women. Most cases of stalking occur between people who know one another—less than 25 percent of women are stalked by a stranger. If you think you are the target of a police investigation of stalking charges in West Chester PA, Chester County or the greater Philadelphia area, contact our experienced criminal defense lawyers now at (610) 692-8700.
What is Stalking in the State of Pennsylvania?
Stalking in the state of Pennsylvania generally includes a pattern of willful, malicious behavior, not a one-time event. You might think of someone lurking outside your window when you think of stalking, however the crime can occur in less obvious ways. If a person repeatedly makes unwanted phone calls to another person or repeatedly sends them unwanted gifts, stalking charges could be filed.
Stalking occurs when the offender’s behaviors have resulted in the alleged victim being fearful or seriously emotionally distressed. Quite often, the crime of stalking occurs between estranged partners, or divorced couples. The following are facts related to stalking in the state of Pennsylvania:
· Stalking is conduct involving repeated acts against another person which are meant to make that person fear bodily harm, or which cause significant levels of emotional distress to the person or stalking is a conduct or repeated communications meant to make the person fear bodily harm or cause significant levels of emotional distress.
· Because stalking behaviors can result in physical acts of violence, the state of Pennsylvania takes such behaviors extremely seriously.
· Stalking includes a pattern of actions within a course of conduct, consisting of more than one act, committed over a period of time.
· The stalking actions may be threatening, or could be obscene, lascivious or lewd.
· The stalking actions can include verbal threats, verbal statements which are lewd, lascivious or obscene, or can include a physical act, a drawing, or a caricature.
· The stalking actions can be performed out in the open, or anonymously.
· Emotional distress, while very subjective, refers to a temporary or permanent state of mental anguish.
· Communication is any way the message is conveyed, whether by fax, e-mail, telephone, text, Internet, other wireless communications, or written, oral or nonverbal methods.
· The communication, no matter the type, must have no legitimate purpose.
· Stalking can be associated with an over-zealous fan who will not leave a celebrity alone, or can stem from disputes from estranged spouses or romantic partners.
· Acting in a manner meant to scare or harass another person can constitute stalking.
Additional forms of stalking might include:
- Making frequent, unwanted telephone calls to another person;
- Leaving unwanted cards, flowers or gifts at another person’s place of work or home;
- Following another person frequently, in a manner which makes them feel fear or become emotionally distressed, or
- Watching another person at their home, school, or place of work.
- Monitoring another person’s computer, cell phone or social networking sites;
- Covertly placing a GPS device on another person’s vehicle for tracking purposes;
- Gathering information about another person via the Internet, public records, contact with the person’s friends, family or co-workers, or through a private investigator;
- Secretly videotaping or photographing another person, or
- Threatening to hurt another person, or that person’s family, friends or pets.
Potential Defenses to Pennsylvania Charges of Stalking
While the defense used by your Pennsylvania criminal defense attorney will be tailored to the exact circumstances of your offense, the following defenses could be used on your behalf:
· The alleged victim misidentified you (i.e., you are innocent of the crime);
· The alleged victim exaggerated or lied about what actually happened;
· The prosecution failed to prove each element of the crime of stalking, or
· You were legitimately in the same place as the alleged victim.
What You Should Not Do if Accused of Stalking
If you find out you are being investigated or charged with the crime of stalking, you should not engage in any of the following behaviors:
· Don’t attempt to talk to the alleged victim, or have any contact at all with the person, even if you only want to “explain.”
· Absolutely do not speak to law enforcement or an investigator without your attorney present; take your right to remain silent seriously.
· Don’t give any evidence—even if that evidence proves your innocence—to law enforcement until you have spoken to an experienced Pennsylvania criminal defense attorney.
Penalties for Pennsylvania Stalking Charges
The penalties for a conviction of stalking can be very serious, including the following:
· If you are charged with the crime of stalking, and this is your first offense (a first-degree misdemeanor), if you are convicted, you will face: Up to one year in jail.
· If you are charged with the crime of stalking, and this is not your first offense, you will be charged with a third-degree felony. If convicted, you could face up to seven years in prison.
Restraining Orders for Stalking in the State of Pennsylvania
While you can be criminally prosecuted for stalking in the state of Pennsylvania, your alleged stalker may also obtain a Protection from Abuse order which allows the police to arrest you, even if none of the alleged stalking behaviors were witnessed. In order to obtain a PFA, the alleged victim must show that he or she is related to you, was married to you, has children with you, or is havingor had an intimate relationship with you, and that he or she was stalked by you for no lawful reason and now fears you will cause serious bodily injury to him or her.
How Your West Chester Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help
If you have been charged with stalking in the state of Pennsylvania, it is imperative that you contact an experienced Pennsylvania criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Your attorney will ensure your rights are protected, and will work hard to have your charges dismissed or reduced, and/or to minimize the penalties associated with the crime of stalking.
The sex crimes defense attorneys of Ciccarelli Law Offices have successfully represented individuals throughout the state of Pennsylvania that have been accused of sexual assault crimes. Our Chester County based law firm is based at 304 North High Street, West Chester PA 19380 and serves clients in Kennett Square, Downingtown, West Chester, Coatesville, , Chester Springs, Chadds Ford, Landenberg, Honey Brook, Oxford, Malvern, Parkesburg, Phoenixville and . Contact us now at (610) 692-8700 or call toll free (877) 529-2422. Don’t wait—contact an attorney immediately.